• Mary Anderson

Mary’s Cycling Challenge: Day 18

Mary Anderson is cycling through her home state of Vermont on her ebike. Her goal: to visit all 251 towns in one go. Since hitting the road on October 6, she has logged 163 towns and 1,071 miles.

Day 18

Cornwall, Salisbury, Middlebury, Weybridge, Waltham, New Haven, Bristol and Starksboro

Miles: 46 (about 16 of them on dirt)

Today was what we call in Vermont a bluebird day. The sky was a deep clear blue, dotted with clouds that ranged from white to a purple gray. The horizon sported mountains adorned in fall splendor. The air was crisp and cool, with temps ranging from the high forties to the low fifties. I spent the morning doing more mapping and enjoying the company of my hosts. I set off around noon, after Carl helped me fix my panniers so they went on and off the bike easier and stayed attached better. I had one very scary oops moment when my shoelace untied and got caught around the chain as I was going downhill. I had to back pedal to keep my foot from being pulled into the chain. Eventually, I stopped and was able to extricate my foot before I fell flat on my face.

The riding was hilly but pleasant and my mind wandered to all of the kindnesses I have been the recipient of on this journey. Besides the people who invite me into their homes and feed me, there are people like the man who preferred to remain anonymous at Frog Hollow Bikes in Middlebury (above, center and right). I stopped there and asked him to look at my brakes. He worked on them free of charge. I contemplated the fact that there is no way I can ever repay all the people who have helped me out on my journeys. I thought of a story Carl told just before I left his home in Bridport. His pants were falling down and a guy took his suspenders off and gave them to Carl. They are really unusual and very practical suspenders. A while later, Carl met someone whose pants were falling down, so he took off his suspenders and gave them to the guy. Carl has since given out enough pairs of suspenders to be on friendly terms with the company and so has received free suspenders from the company. I thought how this suspender story demonstrated the circle of kindness. It reminded me that one of the best ways to repay kindness is by passing it on, creating an endless spiral of kindness emanating into the world.

At this point in my life I don't feel I have a lot to offer except for my stories and a listening ear. I try to bring the gift of genuine, open connection to those who welcome me into their homes. And I work to give honest compliments to people along my way. I called out to a passing woman how I liked her dress. I tell a gardener how lovely his flowers are. Compliments cost me nothing to give and can brighten someone's day. On this trip I want to try to make sure I give out as many compliments as the number of towns I bike through!


About Mary Anderson

When Bethel resident Mary Anderson set out to hike the southern half of the 3,000-mile Continental Divide Trail in the summer of 2020, nobody thought she would make it. Hikers give themselves trail names, and Mary’s was Old Lady Hiker. A few days into her solo trek, she ran into some younger hikers who decided she needed a new name. From then on, she was known as Mary Badass. In the fall of 2020, Mary began writing her story in a Korongo workshop hosted by Kimball Library in Randolph. After completing her CDT hike in September 2021, she began a new challenge: A bicycle tour of Vermont’s 251 towns. Estimated time: four to six weeks.

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